NEW YORK — Robert Halmi’s RHI Enterprises has agreed to an unusual two-year deal with Ion Media for hundreds of its movies and miniseries: Ion won’t pay cash license fees but will share the ad revenues with RHI.
The deal with Ion, which reaches 92 million households through its owned TV stations and some cable and satellite feeds, is the first contract drawn up by RHI since it ponied up $160 million to buy out its movie library from Crown Media on Oct. 5.
“This deal is a true partnership,” said Brandon Burgess, CEO of Ion Media Networks. Ion will turn over 12 hours a week to RHI beginning July 1. RHI will work with Burgess and his staff on scheduling the right movies for the four hours (7-11 p.m.) Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The RHI library includes big-budget miniseries like “Lonesome Dove,” “Moby Dick,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Merlin.” Among its movies are “A Christmas Carol,” “Prince & the Pauper” and “Don Quixote.”
The deal encompasses not just library product but at least six new TV movies from RHI in their U.S. broadcast premiere.
Burgess said the quid pro quo works because “we’re getting solid movies that appeal to an older-skewing family audience, and Halmi gets access to 92 million homes.”
RHI and Ion will brainstorm on the best ad-sales strategy. Burgess said Halmi is confident that the ad revenues will be more robust than any license fee that Ion, which is low on cash, could have shelled out. “RHI is basically underwriting the advertising performance of the movie,” Burgess said.
Ion has done recent deals with Warner Bros. Domestic and Sony Pictures TV for series and movies. Its Monday-Friday primetime schedule consists of reruns of three oldies: “Charlie’s Angels,” “Mama’s Family” and “Diagnosis Murder.”